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aerohead 03-13-2009 04:19 PM

America's Red-Light District & 38 mpg CAFE
 
I've been reflecting on a document I've had since 1993.It's from the Texas' Governor's Office.In brief,a hand full of oil companies were found guilty of price violations,they were fined,to the the tune of some millions of dollars,and since the state didn't know how to reimburse every motorist who'd paid too much for fuel,they tried to spend the money on programs that would help everyone in the state.

The funds came from the Oil Overcharge Restitution Act.Here's what caught my eyes.

Traffic signal lights were synchronized across many towns and cities in Texas.After a period of assessment,it was discovered that for every dollar spent on traffic light synchronization,the citizens got back $ 62 worth of benefit,in the form of saved time,conserved fuel,cleaner air,fewer collisions,lower insurance premiums,lower health-care expenditures,etc.

Let me repeat myself.You put in a dollar,you get 62 dollars back,tax-free,guaranteed.

The nut-case that I am,I started pushing buttons on the calculator to see what this sort of thing might mean.

From my own mpg profile,on,let's say the T-100,I know that it performs best on the highway (36-mpg ),but I get beat up in town ( 21-mpg ).At in-town speeds,the truck is capable of 41-mpg.

In a technical world,as I approach town,a computer display might present a prompt,displaying the proper speed to "make" the first light.If I "made" the first light,it would be possible to synchronize all the following lights,such that I "made" every other light,until I either arrived at my destination,or changed direction.

In this scenario,my "city" mpg goes from 21 to 41,a 95 % increase.With the 55%/45% EPA City/Highway protocol,my "combined" mpg would increase from 27.7 mpg,to 38.75 mpg.That's a 39 % increase in mileage without any changes to the vehicle whatsoever.

If present CAFE standards are presently 27.5 mpg,by synchronizing traffic lights,the "effective" CAFE is raised to 38.4 mpg,with virtually zero modifications to the cars on the road today.

A modest proposal would be to freeze any new safety or emissions requirements for new cars for say 12-years,and divert all this related money for R&D,tooling,manufacturing,and integration,to municipalities for traffic light synchronization.

The air quality would improve faster than with emission controls, do to the doubling in in-town fuel economy.Billions of dollars now wasted at traffic lights could go into the economy.Carbon dioxide emissions would be cut in half in town,accident rates would go down,insurance rates would go down.Emergency room visits would go down.US reliance on foreign oil would fall remarkably.Marines,soldiers,and airmen would not be placed in harm's way,escorting foreign oil shipments at no cost to multi-national oil companies,with costs borne by citizens who don't even drive or own a car.

After 12-years we could see where we're at.Simple math dictates that we'd be trillions of dollars ahead.Jobs,schools,hospitals,parks,homes,new cars,etc.,now going up in smoke at red lights.How the U.S. ever hopes to compete in a global marketplace with behavior like this is beyond me.

I say it's time we lay off the automakers and allow their products to perform as they will,if allowed to operate in an environment not scuttled by the impotence of our elected officials.You take our tax dollars to pay traffic engineers,what do we get for it? It's the $ 62 question.

dcb 03-13-2009 04:48 PM

The lights in Chicago have been timed for as long as I can remember. I've seen it crop up in many citys for a long time. People still drive like ijits though.

TestDrive 03-13-2009 04:52 PM

Phil, would you please post the document or at least give us the title so we can hunt for it on line?

Thanks a bunch.

Daox 03-13-2009 04:54 PM

I don't agree that we should take pressure off the mfgs. As we know, there are tons of things they could do to cars to make them more efficient.

I do agree about looking at stop lights though! These could really be looked at and optimized to decrease tons of waste as Phil stated. Out of the five lights I go through each day, there are two that are programmed horribly. One changes directions every 10 seconds, and only allows one way to go at once with a left hand turn light. There are ALWAYS people waiting there. The other light isn't quite as bad, but it changes after a long time (1 minute?) in each direction. It is a bit smarter and only uses the left turn lights when needed, but it still gets me often enough.

aerohead 03-13-2009 04:59 PM

document
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TestDrive (Post 92594)
Phil, would you please post the document or at least give us the title so we can hunt for it on line?

Thanks a bunch.

TestDrive,the place here where I use the computer will be closed tomorrow,but I'll grab the thing from home and post the details Monday.I may have a copy of it in my photo archive,but the print may be too small to discern all the characters.

aerohead 03-13-2009 05:19 PM

pressure
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Daox (Post 92595)
I don't agree that we should take pressure off the mfgs. As we know, there are tons of things they could do to cars to make them more efficient.

I do agree about looking at stop lights though! These could really be looked at and optimized to decrease tons of waste as Phil stated. Out of the five lights I go through each day, there are two that are programmed horribly. One changes directions every 10 seconds, and only allows one way to go at once with a left hand turn light. There are ALWAYS people waiting there. The other light isn't quite as bad, but it changes after a long time (1 minute?) in each direction. It is a bit smarter and only uses the left turn lights when needed, but it still gets me often enough.

I was hoping the post would provoke a discussion and certainly I'm fully vested in the notion of pushing the auto envelope.I've witnessed a number of fatal collisions here that were provoked by an innocent motorist who ventured out into an intersection as the light turned green,only to be creamed by somebody caught by the red light,sailing through.It's a tremendous safety issue that nobody around here discusses,and from my post,the economic and environmental impacts are obvious.With CAFE at 27.5mpg standard,the actual fleet mpg for the U.S. is only 22 mpg.Most of the difference is in congestion.A large chunk of the congestion is "caused" by traffic engineers.I think they should be held to the same standards as automakers.In fact I think the American Automobile Manufacturers Association should bring a class-action law suit against Texas D.O.T..and federal standards should be enacted for any state that thinks it can run a highway dept.The cost are too great to allow this thing to gain any more traction.Perhaps university-trained engineers should be banned from such positions,and we bring in 2nd-graders.They probably have the wherewithal to fix everything.Okay,rant over.

TestDrive 03-13-2009 05:20 PM

Thanks, Phil.

Having mulled this over for 10 minutes now. Traffic lights broadcast standardized timing data to an Intelligent GPS (programmed with a route to a destination) that operates the cruise control. Driver over-rides in the usual manner (tap brakes or cruise control to off).

cfg83 03-13-2009 05:31 PM

TestDrive -

Sounds like the Audi travolution experiment :

HowStuffWorks "How Audi's Travolution Device Will Work"
Quote:

Intelligent transportation systems involve numerous technologies, some already widespread, others merely developing. On the infrastructure side, intelligent traffic lights play a major role in keeping vehicles flowing along, and feature prominently in Audi's Travolution system. The city of Ingolstadt boasted 46 intelligent traffic lights during the summer of 2008, with plans for 50 more throughout the city. These lights are networked together, which reduces stopping time for vehicles. Again, the idea is not to simply create clockwork barriers for traffic to filter through, but to manage the flow of traffic for maximum efficiency.

The Travolution system also features an intelligent vehicle component, and this is where the system really appeals to hypermilers. The traffic lights don't merely communicate with each other; they communicate with the vehicles themselves -- in this case, specially augmented Audis. During the summer of 2008, the company had two vehicles on the road, but plans to add an additional 20 vehicles.

CarloSW2

ai_vin 03-13-2009 06:26 PM

Why do we even use redlights and stop signs anyways? On a trip to Europe I first got to experience traffic circles and roundabouts and I have to tell you it was a joy. Since then my city has seen fit to install some "traffic circles" too, but most turned out to be small traffic calmers on the side streets. There is one larger roundabout just a few blocks from my house and so far even the famously bad drivers of Vancouver have not had any trouble using it.

Peter7307 03-13-2009 06:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ai_vin (Post 92604)
Why do we even use redlights and stop signs anyways? ...traffic circles and roundabouts... I have to tell you it was a joy.

Widely in use here as well.
The usual "keep it moving" tactic is employed by most drivers ( apart from the usual small percentage who seem to have little idea of anything going on around them ) and round abouts facilitate this very well.

Speeds may be slow but complete stops can usually be avoided to the benefit of FE but in established areas the traditional lights arrangement still prevails.

Round abouts are better for cars and occupants in decreasing the damage done in accidents as well.
The vehicles hit at an angle less than 90 degrees usually and the impact is much less severe.
In addition round abouts have better vision for the most part too.

There can be few things more frustrating than sitting at a red light with one or two other cars and no cross traffic or pedestrians waiting fro the change.

I hate "dumb" technology. If I want that I can operate my washing machine since they are about the same level and that heap of junk is around fifteen years old !


Pete.

jamesqf 03-13-2009 11:09 PM

The problem with roundabouts, or at least the few that have been installed hereabouts, is that they're almost always designed to impede the flow of traffic, rather than smooth it out. But I've long thought that a lot of the state highway engineers should be in a sheltered workshop somewhere.

99LeCouch 03-13-2009 11:25 PM

There are a lot of lights here that could be better synchronized. I can think of 6 that trap you either on or after cresting a fairly long, semi-steep hill. If you manage to get stuck at one on the hill, you are guaranteed to get stuck at the top of the hill somewhere. Lots of racing cars and skipping through yellow lights about to change.

At least there are functioning pedestrian indicators that are usually very reliable indicators of when the light is about to change, making engine-off waiting a viable option.

ai_vin 03-14-2009 12:35 AM

Although they're better for cars and occupants there may be one problem with roundabouts; pedestrians. Some drivers focus on merging more than they need to and fail to check for those on the other side.

Big Dave 03-14-2009 08:22 PM

In many local forums I repeated hold that Indiana ought to be more like Texas and less like Michigan. Here is another example in spades. If you have ever driven through Indiana it has some of the most bizarre traffic engineering in the country. It is nearly impossible to time lights and stop signs are put up willy-nilly. Of course many towns use traffic tickets as a form of taxation.

Piwoslaw 03-15-2009 01:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ai_vin (Post 92634)
Although they're better for cars and occupants there may be one problem with roundabouts; pedestrians. Some drivers focus on merging more than they need to and fail to check for those on the other side.

I remember seeing in England lots of traffic circles that were slightly raised with the ped/bike traffic going under. Having the circle raised is also good, as it naturally makes you slow down when approaching. Unfortunately, any kind of multilevel intersection is expensive, since it requires playing in the dirt.

aerohead 03-16-2009 05:09 PM

documents
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TestDrive (Post 92594)
Phil, would you please post the document or at least give us the title so we can hunt for it on line?

Thanks a bunch.

TestDrive,I was actually able to locate the papers.

The appetizer comes from Texas Department of Transportation"news",January 5,1993,page 30.The article in entitled:"Synchronized lights save Texans money and time."I received my copy from Alan King,Public Information Officer,TXDOT,Dewitt C. Greer State Highway Bldg.,125 E. 11th Street,Austin,TX 78701-2483,PH (512) 463-8585.

The project was part of SUBCHAPTER E. COMPETITIVE GRANTS PROGRAM, 2305.076 Traffic Light Synchronization Program,under Oil Overcharge Restitutionary Act,Texas 1993,73rd Legislature,chapter 268,---- effective Sept. 1, 1993.

The program was funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy with funds from fines to 21 oil companies who violated the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973.Violations occurred from 1973 to 1981.The U.S.Congress' Warner Amendment stipulated that the monies be used in energy-related programs.

I presume that all 50 states received money although my documents only infer that the whole country was involved in the reimbursement.

Some of my remarks and quanta are based on articles from AUTOWEEK,Ward's Auto World,Prevention Magazine,CAR and DRIVER,OMNI Magazine,U.S.News and World Report,POPULAR SCIENCE,The Dallas Morning News,Automobile Magazine,and MOTOR TREND.

Hope that helps.

Doofus McFancypants 03-17-2009 07:53 AM

Roundabouts require some level of "Paying attention" as there are cars/trucks comming at you from both sides ( Your left as you merge onto the circle - your Right as you travel around the circle / exit the circle)

all of us HERE are the type to pay attention to our driving and be aware of those around us.
But we all have seen plenty of people having a hard time driving STRAIGHT - let alone negotiating a traffic circle.

Personally - I am for them-
Only drawback is that they take up more LAND than a 4 way - would be hard to re-engineer intersections to get them in place.

dcb 03-17-2009 09:42 AM

Theres a lot of stop signs that could be yield signs around here.

MazdaMatt 03-17-2009 10:32 AM

My only fear of a system that tells you how fast to go to catch the next green is people that will cruise at that speed and not bother to look both ways before they get to the intersection. Just because it is green doesn't mean you won't get creamed by some other lemming on the road.

aerohead 03-17-2009 05:07 PM

additional thoughts
 
Looks like I'm not alone,stuck behind red lights.Here are some thoughts after reading responses:------------------------------------------------------- If automobiles get their best urban fuel economy at between 35-40 miles per hour,then that seems like an appropriate target velocity if we want to capitalize on an automobile's efficiency.--------------------------------------------------------------- Maintaining momentum is paramount to achieving top economy,so that means no stops,regardless of how we achieve it.--------------------------------- Perfectly-synchronized traffic lights would allow complete conservation of momentum,as no variation in velocity would occur.------------------------ The "roundabout," from what is reported,requires deceleration to below 25 miles per hour.Not perfection,but miles ahead of a dead stop,and no left-turn collisions.--------------------------------------------------------------- Cloverleafs allow a change in direction with virtually no loss in momentum, no collisions,but at the cost of greater real estate.----------------------------------------------------------------- Yield signs allow progress when it is clearly safe to proceed.--------------------------------------------------------------- Right turn on a red allows progress,again,as it is safe to proceed.--------------------------------------------------------------- Right turn lanes allow access to right turn on a red,whereas lack of provision for the lane prevents safe progress when available.-------------------------------------------------------------- Left turns can completely immobilize a two-lane road if a left turn lane is not provided,potentially causing all following motorists to "miss" a light.------------------------------------------------------------------ Left turn "signals" at traffic lights can prevent the possibility of traffic light synchronization,due to additional time cars are arrested waiting,destroying the cyclical ebb and flow necessary for synchronization. --------------------------------------------------------------- Some U.S. cities prohibit left turns alltogether at controlled intersections( Hackensack,N.J. comes to mind ).Instead of the left turn,a right-sweeping cloverleaf is provided beyond the intersection,which orients the car as a left turn would,but without crossing traffic.By the time you sweep through the cloverleaf,the signal has changed to green in "your" direction and you travel on with little interruption in velocity.Clean,economical and safe.------------------------------------------------------------------ Commercial real estate development of "corner" property destroys any hope of developing high-efficiency intersections.------------------------------ For some existing " problem" intersections,it would be prudent to use emminent-domain,pay above-market price as compensation for the property,then move or demolish the developments and expand the intersection into this space for zero-stop traffic movement.Draconian in the short run,but huge dividends if we expect to have mobility into the future.----------------------------------------------------------------- Municipal Tax Appraisal Districts could be forbidden from even considering "corner" real estate for any purpose other than road infrastructure.---------------------------------------------------------- Ditto commercial real estate agents/brokers/owners.--------------------------------------------------------------- Commercial real estate development would be required to provide "seamless" egress and ingress off and onto streets,roads,arterials,with virtually no impact on traffic flow.-------------------------------------------------------------------- Ditto schools.------------------------------------------------------------ Ditto churches.---------------------------------------------------------- Ditto parks. ----------------------------------------------------------- Municipal,county,state employee,and public school retirement and pension systems should be prohibited from investments in any corporate entity involved with any facet of energy,construction,transportation,building materials,motor fuels,vehicles,their parts,service,repair,insurance,health-care,pharmaceuticals,etc. within the U.S.,so as not to project an image of impropriety or conflict of interest, when making governmental decisions or daily operations which impact the profitablity of these industries,especially when profits originate from governmentally-induced waste.---------------------------------------------------------------- That's the short-list.

JoJotheTireMan 03-31-2009 09:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dcb (Post 92982)
Theres a lot of stop signs that could be yield signs around here.

Aren't all Stop signs really just yield signs anyways? At least that is the way it seems around my neck of the woods. Keep in mind that I live and drive in MA.

A relative of mine asked me if blinkers were illegal in MA after driving here a short time.

I do agree 100%, we need to keep the flow as much as possible. JoJo

NeilBlanchard 06-28-2009 01:58 PM

Here's some new research on traffic lights: "organic computing" that "learns" and adapts to traffic conditions!

Green Car Congress: Researchers Suggest Organic Computing Approach to Traffic Light Control

aerohead 07-01-2009 05:04 PM

organic
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard (Post 112677)
Here's some new research on traffic lights: "organic computing" that "learns" and adapts to traffic conditions!

Green Car Congress: Researchers Suggest Organic Computing Approach to Traffic Light Control

Neil,thanks for posting that.Looks promising.Perhaps there's significant funding on the horizon.Competition in a global marketplace will require players unfettered by parasites like congestion.

bgd73 07-01-2009 07:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ai_vin (Post 92604)
Why do we even use redlights and stop signs anyways? On a trip to Europe I first got to experience traffic circles and roundabouts and I have to tell you it was a joy. Since then my city has seen fit to install some "traffic circles" too, but most turned out to be small traffic calmers on the side streets. There is one larger roundabout just a few blocks from my house and so far even the famously bad drivers of Vancouver have not had any trouble using it.

There is alot of places that could use them, my town gainedone not long ago. Clever.and there is no straight through like a lunatic beating a light, one has to slow to go around the median. I liked england like that, there is a natural common sense appearance. we'd have bigger versions, (as we do now).
The idling redlight suckling is injection. there is no stoich. it is the sickest think to happen to cars since the carb left. Me? I could care less about idle times. I drive some kind of freaky rarity. fuel mileage wavers like 5mpg.

epdmcoatings 07-02-2009 05:49 AM

A modest proposal would be to freeze any new safety or emissions requirements for new cars for say 12-years,and divert all this related money for R&D,tooling,manufacturing,and integration,to municipalities for traffic light synchronization.

robchalmers 07-02-2009 06:25 AM

Seriously?? Traffic lights?

rant brewing

at the mo THE WORLD needs to look for a new direction for fuel usage/alternatives rather than excuses to let us keep the drinkers we have. Sorry but freezing R&D to fund traffic light syncronisation?? That means current things Dodge Rams / F350's down to other 'good' MPg'ers of 20-30mpg will stay the norm. what kind of logic or progress is that when the US could drastically reduce foriegn oil dependancy / emissions just by simply saying 'the rest of the western world has a lower polution/head level why is that?' or do I really need a 5.7L V8 truck to pick-up a bag of groceries?? :( when there is technology out there that means you could have a SUV that does 100+% better on fuel or better yet a car that does 200-300% better? Don't get me wrong WE over here in europe do have similar issues but we're changing our habbits by taxing emissions - and we also have extortionate fuel prices that kinda forced our hand, but the average household across here would choke on their lunch if you said 24mpgus (taking a rough average of cars I've looked at in the states) was acceptable.

I applaud the Obama administration if they were to put in a 38MPG minimum, maybe I just don't understand but why is it so hard to get through an EPA test? is it a 'Big oil' issue that they don't want foriegn cars sipping fuel?


Sorry - rant over:o

NeilBlanchard 07-02-2009 11:50 AM

IMO, the EPDM Coatings post is borderline Spam...

fidalgoman 08-09-2009 09:53 PM

I would like to say we all know that work requires energy. Pushing extra weight, hard acceleration, braking, stop and go, high drag aerodynamics all create the need for work and the extra fuel to accomplish it. I'd like to say we all know, but sadly a vast majority of the people do not. Most of you here know what it takes to save gas. The average driver doesn't know and for that matter doesn't give a rip unless it's painful at the pump. Even then they find a way to justify the pain and believe it doesn't hurt “all” that much.

Asking the government to do something about it is like offering the Mafia a license to do business their way. Most government agencies once established have little incentive to create scenarios where the problem is solved and the need for their agency goes away. Instead you tend to see empire building and larger and larger drains on the economy with the absolute minimum of real progress. Real progress is only going to come from the grass roots. And my friends that is you! :thumbup:

gone-ot 08-09-2009 10:05 PM

...government is a never-ending cycle of obstacles and opportunities, where an obstacle is merely an opportunity for bureaucracy to control/manage something in-perpetuity with "completion" (ie: sunset rules/laws) neither the goal nor a defined requirement.

...existance merely for the sake of existance.

dremd 08-17-2009 12:16 PM

Love it!

I have contaced my local government several times in regards to TERRIBLE light timing. and have always received the response that the lights are timed that way on purpose. But then again I do live in an oil town . . .

aerohead 09-19-2009 04:38 PM

24 mpg
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by robchalmers (Post 113379)
Seriously?? Traffic lights?

rant brewing

at the mo THE WORLD needs to look for a new direction for fuel usage/alternatives rather than excuses to let us keep the drinkers we have. Sorry but freezing R&D to fund traffic light syncronisation?? That means current things Dodge Rams / F350's down to other 'good' MPg'ers of 20-30mpg will stay the norm. what kind of logic or progress is that when the US could drastically reduce foriegn oil dependancy / emissions just by simply saying 'the rest of the western world has a lower polution/head level why is that?' or do I really need a 5.7L V8 truck to pick-up a bag of groceries?? :( when there is technology out there that means you could have a SUV that does 100+% better on fuel or better yet a car that does 200-300% better? Don't get me wrong WE over here in europe do have similar issues but we're changing our habbits by taxing emissions - and we also have extortionate fuel prices that kinda forced our hand, but the average household across here would choke on their lunch if you said 24mpgus (taking a rough average of cars I've looked at in the states) was acceptable.

I applaud the Obama administration if they were to put in a 38MPG minimum, maybe I just don't understand but why is it so hard to get through an EPA test? is it a 'Big oil' issue that they don't want foriegn cars sipping fuel?


Sorry - rant over:o

In spite of improved automotive mpg due to CAFE standards,the American fleet is only achieving 16-mpg.The difference between what the cars can do and their actual performance is wrapped up in traffic congestion,some of which is "created" by municipal governments within the U.S.,something motorists and automakers have no control over.--------- From my own personal investigations,I've found that traffic light syncronization can "double" my urban mpg,cut CO2 emissions in half,reduce NOx by half,reduce my urban fuel cost by half,and reduce US reliance on foreign oil by half.------------ For what US taxpayers lose each year in slick television advertising-induced higher consumer prices,the US could,at no cost,finance traffic light syncronization,nationwide.------------- If the same money is spent on emissions control R&D,you get a clean car/truck/SUV which becomes "dirty" while suffering mortal momentum genocide at each stoplight,for the entire nation.------------- A 6,200 % return on investment (tax-free) should appeal to free-market capitalists.

fidalgoman 09-20-2009 12:33 AM

The problem with all this is people are both neurotic and psychotic. We want high mileage and we want tank like survivability in crashes. We want clean air and we want unlimited mobility. We want the government to enforce all all regulations and laws we agree with yet leave us alone when the law seems unfair to us. People are crazy.

We lived in Alaska for a while and it was very interesting. The loggers got upset and complained the miners messed things up and the miners thought the loggers were messing things up. They both wanted the other to be stopped and also to be left alone in their own pursuits. Each side was a bipolar combination of reason and insanity.

This is what makes it so hard to find consensus. Then we have the charlatans in government riding popular opinion and hype to further their own careers over the sake of the nation. Think of how many rant about the environment yet live lives of largess in mansions, wasteful lives that pollute more than twenty of us added together. The difficulty for the reasonable and prudent man is that he lives in a world virtually devoid of reason. So I choose to live a prudent life and do what I can.

This has been an over the top rant for what I feel is the reason we can't seem to get anything done. If we want to teach others to live a life of virtue we must be a living example. Even then there are few who will get it. Rant off.


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